Friday, December 24, 2010

In a Nutshell

A real professional and trained economist makes a substantive point about the concrete economic situation and Matt Yglesias, with his B.A. in philosophy and long history of being ill informed, "proves" that the actual economist is wrong. How?, you ask.  Thusly, he responds:
Imagine a recession that begins at a time when nominal interest rates are 9 percent.
That's right he creates an imaginary crisis that, if properly misunderstood and badly analyzed, proves that a professional no nothing is right.  To which I would respond, imagine a world in which knowing something was a prerequisite for making claims of knowledge.  In such a world, we would be be free of Douthat, Brooks, Freidman and his related units, almost all of the WaPo editorial page, and, perhaps most importantly, Palin.

edited for clarity.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shut Up, Already.

Matt Yglesias should.  Today he informs us that

I think the only reasonable way to play the American politics game is “by the rules as written.” That’s why it made sense for the Republican minority to spend so much of the 111th Congress exploiting the possibilities for obstruction in an unprecedented way, and that’s why it made sense for the Democratic majority to use the “lame duck” session to pass a bunch of good bills.
Unless, of course, you think that politics isn't a game but rather an attempt to govern in a way that allows the majority to implement its policies will seeking to influence those policies instead of using various tricksies to bring the government to a halt which then requires the lame duck.

In addition, a chart

For much of the past few years, the filibuster wasn't an important arrow in the quiver and was only used rarely.  What changed on or about 19890?  Could it be the creation of an increasingly ideologically driven Republican party that lost all interest in governing because, you know, theory matters more than fact?  Could it be that opposition by filibuster only makes sense if you're the sort of brutally silly person who thinks abstractly? In short, does it makes sense only if you are speaking Yglesianism?

Mistakenly Mistaken

As is her wont, Meagan McArdle made some kind of a math error which she refused to admit.  Ultimately, however, she did admit that she was wrong mathematically with various caveats. Shortly after her non-magnanimous admission of error, she posted a long list of Paul Krugman's errors. As evidence, of a sort, that all pundits err and to err is human and etc.  The thing is that there is a difference between predicting what will happen and simple division. In other words, her persistent errors of fact are not the equivalent of some errors of fortune telling.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Birds of a Feather Flocking Together Means Considerable Less Than Jonah Goldberg Thinks It Does

Jonah Goldberg likes to point out that important Progressives thought Eugenics was important.  Recently, he repeated this dodge as it relates to J. M. Keynes and others. Here's a fact, belief in Eugenics as the way forward cut across political ideologies (on page 69 a Socialist worked with Conservatives on the very Eugenics organization on which Keynes sat). Imagine a Bruce Springstein appreciation society meeting at which you could find Chris Christie, Jon Stewart, Ronald Reagan and me.  Or ask your self if a belief in Eugenics is central to Keynes' economic theory by considering the fact that contemporary Keynesians have to accept Eugenics, hint Paul Krugman.  If you want to know if you ought trust Keynes on race the answer is no; does this fact delegitimate  Keynes economic theory? The answer is, again, no. Oh, and as by the way, Robert Heinlein was a sci-fi writer, Glibertarianl, and he promoted Eugenics in the Lazarus Long novels and short stories, does that prove that sci-fi and Glibertarianism are beyond the pale?

Consider, as by the way, Bertram Russel.  He was a brilliant logician and made seminal contributions to logic; he was also a cad and bounder in his private romantic life.  Does the latter tell against the former?  No. Bringing the latter up to erode the former is a nearly perfect example of the ad hominem fallacy. The same is true of Keynes and Eugenics or Progressives and Eugenics.  Most, which is to say all the non Eugenical, desires of Progressives did not and do not hinge on Eugenics. Even more worser, the Catholic Church denied that the earth moved round the sun and condemn as heresy those, like Galileo, who said it did. Will Goldberg declare war on the church? And what about witchcraft trials? Protestants and Catholics murdered innocents they declared witches.  Sure, few of either confession would today do the same, but still the historical record is clear.  Will he reject Christianity?  It's beyond boobocracy.

Consider, as by the way, Teddy Roosevelt, Progressive in chief.  He believed, among other hateful things, in American Execeptionalism, Conservationism, and Imperialism.  Must contemporary Conservatives reject AE because TR wanted to protect wet lands and created bird sanctuaries?  The question answers itself.

Goldberg has his head up his fundament because he doesn't understand that no one is always right, except God and me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Metaphysics of Bullshit, in the Frankfurter Sense of Bullshit

Recently, Paul Krugman has been explaining to people who get their economic analyis from Glenn Beck that there is no necessary connection between the money supply, specifically M1, and inflation. He also makes the point that as a concrete matter of fact there is more than one money supply, M2 and there used to be an M3, because what counts as money for specific purposes changes as the circumstances change. Matt Yglesias reads this and decides that his BA in philosophy is just the thing to clarify the situation for Krugman. Leaving aside the silliness and gigantic self-regard encapsulated therein, Yglesias succeeds in proving that a debit card is more convenient than a sack filled with dollar coins. It's arguments like that that make him such a respected public intellectual.

But wait there's more.  On December 17th in the course of a rambling discussion of why being a giving the people what they want if you are a corporation bent only on profit maximization is okay for soulless corporations but not for principled politicians, Yglesias asserts, among other assertions of equal or lesser value, that
[t]he executives of Darden Restaurants are basically trying to make money. And so are the owners of the firm. And that’s fine. Most of us aren’t so distressed by the idea that the firm is, on some level, a soulless money-making machine.
Of course, you know, lots of folks have problems with corporations pursuing profit in a mindless and soulless fashion.  Many of those are progressives who have sought through suasion and regulation to convince or force corporations to behave as if they had, if not souls, at least some sense of social justice. Neo-Liberals, Reaganites, Thatcherites, Glibbertarians, and Ayn Rand have no problem with soulless corporations pursuing profit regardless of social cost, but, even with Yglesias steadfastly doing their bidding, they are a minority.

But wait, there is yet more.  On December 18th, he quotes someone proving that
[s]ince 1978, productivity in the nonfarm business sector is up 86%, but real compensation per hour (which includes fringe benefits) is up just 37%. Does that seem fair? 
and responds:
Not to me. But I think that progressive discussions of this phenomenon wind up over complicating things when contemplating the causes.
He tries to side step the obvious cause, soulless corporations mindlessly pursuing profit regardless of the social cost, by blaming the Fed. 

Yglesias either can't or won't see that he has a problem with soulless corporations pursing profits mindlessly because if he did his whole neo-Liberal enterprise comes crashing down. Why, one wonders, who a guy working for an allegedly progressive think tank see fit to espouse the most hackney Conservative gobbledygook instead of making the case that, you know, corporations that soullessly seek to maximize their profits are going to act like soulless corporations seeking to maximize their profits by screwing their workers and ruining the environment? This position, which I believe to be true based on the actual history of capitalism in these United States, long may she allow countries to drift into her imperial orbit, is, go figure, at the heart of the Progressive agenda as developed by Roosevelt and improved on by, you know, those great Americans bent on improving America by reining in corporations through suasion and regulation.

In short, were he not committed to a life of the mind built on bullshit, in the Frankfurtian sense, Yglesias would have to think about what he thinks instead of just writing whatever glib contrarian thought he finds ready to hand.